The complaints levy is currently £3,500, but for complaints heard and upheld at committee on or after 1st July this will increase to £5,000. However, this complaints levy can be reduced to £3,000 at the committee’s discretion if it thinks the lawyer or firm has followed good practice in complaint handling. There is also a nominal complaints levy of £1,000 if the committee considers the inadequate professional service to be very minor.
What does this mean?
In considering whether a reduced complaints levy should be awarded, the committee will take into account:
- Whether internal firm complaint handling policies and procedures were followed.
- Timescales and thoroughness of the investigation and response to the complaint, both internally and at the SLCC.
- Whether the complainer was correctly signposted to the SLCC
- Whether there was any acceptance of service failings or offer of reasonable settlement
- If new explanations, that could have reasonably been provided to the complainer earlier, were only raised once the complaint reached the SLCC
- Any other issues relating to the internal handling of the complaint or contact with the SLCC
In a newly published SLCC case study, the firm had admitted its error and attempted to reach a resolution with the complainer internally. The committee directed a reduced complaints levy.
How can you make sure your complaint handling is up to scratch?
Make use of the best practice resources on the SLCC’s website. In particular, the formal ‘Section 40’ guidance on complaint handling. The SLCC also regularly speak on complaints at accredited CPD events around Scotland.
Why the change?
The increase is part of a move to more of a ‘polluter pays‘ model. The whole profession shouldn’t have to carry the cost for when complaints have not been handled properly and reach the most expensive stage of our process.
We publicly consulted on this change in January 2019, a part of our budget consultation. There were no comments received on increasing the complaints levy.